Our Executive Director


Rabbi Aaron Lerner

Executive Director


Rabbi Aaron Lerner is passionate about creating inclusive and empowered Jewish community. He believes that Jewish tradition enriches and informs every aspect of life, and particularly enjoys encouraging college students to apply Jewish values as they grapple with life’s major questions during their most formative years.

During his time at Hillel at UCLA, Rabbi Aaron Lerner has helped expand Hillel’s leadership training program to include approximately 150 student leaders who reach nearly 1,800 Jewish students every year at UCLA. He has also played a key role in Israel advocacy and education on campus and in the national arena.

A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Aaron received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah with an emphasis in education. Prior to entering the world of education, Aaron worked for more than a decade in commercial real estate finance after graduating from USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Our Student Life Team


Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh

Director of Student Life & Simha and Sara Lainer Senior Jewish Educator 

Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh is Hillel at UCLA’s Director of Student Life. Ordained at Hebrew Union College-JIR, Rabbi Tarlan served as the Jewish Emergent Network Fellow at The Kitchen in San Francisco and most recently was faculty at Milken Community High School. She has a passion for bridging two worlds within her teachings: the wisdom of the liberal Ashkenazi Jewish world and the Mizrachi, especially Persian, traditions that she was raised with. Rabbi Tarlan is thrilled to contribute her culture-merging sensibility towards creating meaningful and inclusive Jewish experiences at Hillel at UCLA. 

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Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan

OU Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus



Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan and Sharona Kaplan, MSW are in their second decade as the JLIC couple at UCLA. Originally from Teaneck, NJ, the Kaplans – who met in High School - now live in Westwood with their six young children.  Bringing with them expansive experience in informal Jewish education, programming, community building and engagement, the Kaplans’ warmth, sincerity and passion attracts and inspires students and community members alike. The Kaplans are sought after mentors, teaching brides and grooms before their weddings, escorting students through an array of defining life cycle events and offering advice and personal counsel to students.

Molly Auerbach

Springboard Innovation Fellow


Molly is originally from Denver, CO and just graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Hebrew. As much as she loves math, she is much more passionate about being active in the Jewish community and welcoming people in, which makes her SO excited for her new role as the Springboard Innovation Fellow at UCLA. She has an extreme love for the land of Israel and even spent a semester studying there as a part of the Nachshon Project. Molly has spent the last 12 summers at Camp Ramah in California and could not be more excited to be moving out west. Get in touch with Molly if you want to help reimagine Jewish life on campus or just to hear her contagious laugh.

Maili Lampe

Springboard Social Justice Fellow


Maili graduated from Syracuse University as a dual Political Science and Religion major. Born and raised in sunny San Diego, she is thrilled to be back in Southern California to be close to her family and the beach. Maili is serving as the Springboard Social Justice Fellow and can’t wait to talk social activism with everyone! She loves to explore new places and will debate where to get the best tacos with anyone and everyone. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about social activism, wellness, or getting involved in the community!

Navee Cohen

Israel Fellow


Navee Cohen is an Israeli native, a kibbutznik-- born and raised in Ramat Yohanan. But he’s also Israel’s Triathlon Champion for 5 consecutive years, a professional actor in Musicals and TV commercials, a mentor for youth groups and we almost  forgot to mention- a part time farmer before becoming the Israel Fellow at UCLA Hillel. So yes- labels are fun but they’re not reflecting who we really are. That's why he is choosing to build his lectures rich with point of views and a variety of education methods. This way every group gets the best possible idea of.

Our Chief Operating Officer


David Berman

Chief Operating Officer

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A native of Columbus, Ohio, David Berman has over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector in Los Angeles, working for organizations including the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, and BREATHE California of Los Angeles County. He recently spent a few years in Binghamton, New York, where he served as Assistant Director of Hillel at Binghamton and worked in a strategic planning role for the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University. David received his Bachelor's Degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

Our Development Team


Rachael Petru

Director of Philanthropic Partnerships

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Hailing from the Midwest, Rachael came to Los Angeles after receiving a BA in General Studies, Certificate in Jewish Studies and a Minor in Hebrew from Indiana University. While participating in the first Birthright Israel trip, Rachael became hooked on working to support the state of Israel and the Jewish community. Rachael went on to spend eight years as a major gifts fundraiser for Hadassah during which time she also earned a Certificate in Public Relations for Non Profits from UCLA Extension. Rachael is an alumna of the Bend the Arc Jeremiah Fellowship as well as a member of the “talent” pool of the Professional Leaders Project. 


Gisele Goldwater-Feldman

Director of Community Philanthropy

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A third generation Los Angeleno, Gisele was born, raised, and educated in Los Angeles. After earning her undergraduate degree at Occidental College in art and religious studies, Gisele went on to earn her MBA in Nonprofit Management at American Jewish University. Thereafter, Gisele served as the Director of Development at Valley Beth Shalom Day School and most recently, she worked with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Women’s Philanthropy Division. Growing up, Gisele was fortunate to attend Camp Alonim, A.J. Heschel Day School, de Toledo High School, and Brandeis Collegiate Institute. She adores spending time with her sweet dog Frankie!


Mor S. Gedalia Pesachov

Associate Director of Philanthropy

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Born in Israel and raised in Los Angeles, Mor received her BA in Economics and Psychology at Bucknell University where she also served as a Development and Endowment Officer. She went on to the non-profit world and participated in an international fellowship in Jerusalem. She later completed her Master’s at Harvard University where she researched the relationships between Judaism, Biotechnology and Ethics. Mor is very passionate about Judaism and her love for Israel, when she is not working, she can be found going to the movies, staffing a birthright trip or spending time with family and friends.

Carrie Cook

Donor Services Associate

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Carrie was born and raised on a beautiful dairy farm in Southeastern Wisconsin. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she moved to Los Angeles to “see the world” and at first sight of the ocean, decided to stay. For ten years, Carrie worked as a Donation Coordinator for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. She received a Master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and in her free time, enjoys writing fiction and spending time with her husband and two children. She joined the Hillel team in January 2020 and is grateful to be a part of such a vibrant community.

Our Director Emeritus


Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

Director Emeritus

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CHAIM SEIDLER-FELLER was Executive Director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA for a fantastic 40 years.

He is currently our Director Emeritus and is also the director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. He was ordained in 1971 at Yeshiva University where he completed a Masters in Rabbinic Literature. Chaim is a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He was a founding member of Americans for Peace Now. Chaim was a rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl.

Our Artistic Director


Perla Karney

The Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts &

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller Institute for Jewish Learning

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Perla has been the artistic director of the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel for the past fourteen years. During this time, she has transformed the center into a vibrant, popular destination for students and the Jewish community seeking art and culture. In addition to her position at the Dortort Center, Perla has been appointed Director of the Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller Institute for Jewish Learning. Perla presents nine art exhibits every year in over two thousand square feet of gallery space at Hillel. She also mentors student artists, showcases emerging artists, introduces documentaries, book authors, and produces staged reading of original plays. In addition, Perla coordinates the RSCF Institute for Jewish Learning lecture series.


Perla was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany. She left her home town of Munich as a teenager and was educated in the United States, Canada, Switzerland and Paris. She returned permanently to the United States for her college education (BA from UCLA, graduate work in English Lit. at Loyola Marymount University). Before taking the position as artistic director at Hillel at UCLA Perla was a successful theater producer in Los Angeles bringing such plays as "Woman in Mind" with Helen Mirren to the stage as well as many other West Coast premieres. In addition to being the past vice president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Perla sits on the board of the UCLA Fowler Museum Arts Council, and is a founding member of Temple of the Arts. She was recently elected to the board of the award-winning Los Angeles based theater company "Rogue Machine"

Our Facilities Team


Adrian Villegas

Facilities Associate

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Adrian was born and raised in Inglewood. Following his work at the City of Inglewood in the Department of Public Works, he came to Hillel in 2011 and is now the Facilities Associate. Adrian is in charge of keeping the building well maintained, comfortable and safe for all who visit. Away from work, he spends time with his wife of ten years, Tami, and their children - son Christian (12) and daughter Adrian (10) - enjoying the park, beaches, the movies and other family fun.